New names came flooding into Classic contention from all points of the compass on Saturday, with all four prep winners making their stakes breakthrough as the countdown continues. Hit Show was a wide-margin winner of the G3 Withers Stakes at Aqueduct Racetrack, Litigate belied his inexperience in the G3 Sam F. Davis Stakes at Tampa Bay Downs, and Chase The Chaos showed he could stretch out in the El Camino Real Derby at Golden Gate Fields. Elsewhere, there was a huge shock in the 2023 Suncoast Stakes at Tampa Bay when 38-1 Dreaming Of Snow narrowly beat champion juvenile filly Wonder Wheel.

Withers Stakes

G3, $250,000, 1m 1f dirt, 3yo, Aqueduct

Hit Show gets ratings boost: Brad Cox boosted his Kentucky Derby portfolio when Hit Show cruised to an easy success in the Withers at Aqueduct on Saturday, steaming away from Arctic Arrogance and General Banker and claiming 20 RTKD qualifying points in the process.

Withers Stakes Race Video


2023 Withers Stakes is won by Hit Show & Jockey Manuel Franco #Horseracing #Horseracingtips #Horsesoftiktok #Horses #Horse #Sports #FYP

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The 6-5 favorite, the only horse in the race absent from the original field for the postponed Withers, was ridden chilly by Manny Franco as second-choice Arctic Arrogance cut out the fractions, before moving up around the turn and into the lead at the eighth pole. The rest was easy, Hit Show stretching five and a half lengths clear at the line, with six and a quarter lengths separating second and third.

Hit Show, a grey son of Candy Ride, was making his stakes breakthrough at the first attempt and taking his record to three-for-four. He earned only tepid attention from the future book markets, with Jazz cutting him to +5000 for the Derby behind +700 favorite Arabian Knight.

Hit Show’s next target may well be the G2 Wood Memorial over the same course and distance on April 8, while Arctic Arrogance is set to cut back in distance.

“We knew he would be at his best around two turns,” said Cox, who also has Instant Coffee and Victory Formation in Derby contention. “He needs to get bigger and stronger and continue his march to the Derby.”

Withers Stakes Payouts

1. Hit Show$4.60$3.00$2.30
2. Arctic Arrogance$2.60$2.10
3. General Banker$3.50

WINNING TIME: 1m 54.71s

Sam F. Davis Stakes

G3, $250,000, 1m 1/16 dirt, 3yo, Tampa Bay Downs

Litigate lays down the law: Another trainer adding to his list of Derby possibilities was Todd Pletcher, whose Litigate made his stakes breakthrough in the Sam F. Davis at Tampa Bay Downs on Saturday, picking up 20 RTKD points with a comfortable victory over Groveland and Classic Car Wash. It was Pletcher’s seventh win in the Sam F. Davis, extending his record.

The favorite Dubyuhnell had traffic problems around the first turn and was never a factor, and 5-2 second-choice Litigate took full advantage, surging into contention on the home turn and running down front-runner Zydeceaux at the top of the lane. Groveland rallied on the fence but Litigate was too strong, coming home by a length and a quarter, with a length and a half between second and third. Dubyuhnell trailed in eighth.

Sam F. Davis Stakes Race Video


The 2023 Sam F. Davis Stakes is won by Litigate #Horseracing #Horseracingtips #Horsesoftiktok #Horses #Horse #Sports #FYP

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“At the top of the stretch it felt like I had a lot of horse left,” said jockey Luis Saez. “I let him run and he kept going – that was magnificent.”

This was only the third start of Litigate’s career and a healthy rebound from his defeat in an allowance optional claimer on his previous outing. He was cut to +5000 for the Kentucky Derby on the Jazz future book, and the next step towards Churchill Downs could be the G3 Tampa Bay Derby over this course and distance on March 11.

Sam F. Davis Stakes Payouts

1. Litigate $7.60$5.40$4.80
2. Groveland $17.80$11.60
3. Classic Car Wash$9.00

WINNING TIME: 1m 44.83s

Suncoast Stakes

Ungraded, $150,000, 1m 40y dirt, 3yo fillies, Tampa Bay Downs

Snow freezes out the favorites: There was a stunning upset in the Suncoast, on the Sam F. Davis undercard, as 38-1 shot Dreaming Of Snow outran last year’s champion juvenile filly Wonder Wheel and the highly regarded Julia Shining.

Dreaming Of Snow, trained by Tampa Bay doyen Gerald Bennett, broke on top and never looked back.

Suncoast Stakes Race Video


Dreaming of Snow offset in the 2023 Suncoast Stakes #Horseracing #Horseracingtips #Horsesoftiktok #Horses #Horse #Sports #FYP

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The 1-2 favorite Wonder Wheel seemed to be cruising in early stretch but the race-fit Dreaming Of Snow dug in hard through the final eighth and turned back the champ by a neck, with Julia Shining – a sister to dual Eclipse Award winner Malathaat – a one-paced third, a length and a quarter further back.

“I beat Wonder Wheel – wow!” said jockey Samy Camacho, tactically aware on a track that favored speed.
Dreaming Of Snow, stretching out around two turns for the first time, earned the 20 RTKO points on offer to the winner and will now take in another prep on the Kentucky Oaks trail.

Suncoast Stakes Payouts

1. Dreaming Of Snow$78$15.20$6.60
2. Wonder Wheel$2.60$2.10
3. Julia Shining$2.80

WINNING TIME: 1m 40.18s

El Camino Real Derby

Ungraded, $100,000, 1m 1f a/w, 3yo, Golden Gate Fields

Chaos theory proves correct: His connections have a big decision to make after Chase The Chaos, who is not nominated to the Triple Crown, ran out an impressive winner of the El Camino Real Derby at Golden Gate Fields on Saturday, putting away the favored Gilmore and Harcyn to make his stakes breakthrough.

El Camino Real Derby Horse Video


Chase the Chaos Wins the 2023 El Camino Real Derby #Horseracing #Horseracingtips #Horsesoftiktok #Horses #Horse #Sports #FYP

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The 4-1 third-choice, trained by Ed Moger and ridden by Armando Ayuso, had come up just short on his previous attempts at stakes level but appreciated stretching out here. He was last to challenge after Gilmore and Harcyn had swamped the freewheeling front-runner Nullarbor and put his stamp on proceedings inside the final sixteenth, getting home by a length and a half with a length between second and third.

“He was sharp,” said Ayuso. “We’ve gone step by step with him and he’s improved with every race.”
If he is to utilize the ten RTKD points he earned here, as well as his free pass into the Preakness Stakes, Chase The Chaos will have to be nominated to the Triple Crown by March 27, for a fee of $6,000.

El Camino Real Derby Payouts

1. Chase The Chaos$10.40$4.40$2.80
2. Gilmore $3.60$2.60
3. Harcyn $3.80

WINNING TIME: 1m 51.68s

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